2017 Women's Volleyball Preview and Players to Watch

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The 2017 Conference Carolinas Women's Volleyball preseason poll has been released. Barton College will enter the season as the favorite to win the Conference Carolinas Women's Volleyball Championship, according to Conference Carolinas coaches.

1. Barton College: The Bulldogs collected seven first-place votes and a total of 86 points to be crowned the early season favorite in 2017 by Conference coaches.

Barton made its first trip to the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship last season after going 22-9 overall and 14-2 in Conference Carolinas play. The Bulldogs would also dethrone two-time defending conference champion Erskine to win its first Conference Carolinas Women's Volleyball Championship in 2016, which accompanied their 2016 North Division regular season title.

Barton returns no All-Conference Carolinas performers in 2017. However, they do return three catalysts behind their 2016 conference tournament run in tournament MVP Angelica Acevedo and all-tourney picks Riley Bane and Allie Cullens. With reigning Coach of the Year Jeff Lennox at the helm, 2017 could be the Bulldogs' best yet.

Players to Watch:

  • Angelica Acevedo (Jr.) - Setter
  • Riley Bane (Jr.) - Libero
  • Allie Cullens (Jr.) - Middle Blocker

2. Belmont Abbey College: The Crusaders rank second in the poll with 75 points and one first-place vote from coaches. They concluded 2016 19-13 overall and 12-4 in conference play.

Belmont Abbey finished second in the North Division and third in the overall conference standing last season, which makes it the biggest obstacle standing between Barton repeating as champions.

The push for a conference title will come off the play of returning All-Conference Carolinas selections Alexandra Henriott and Coreen Norwood.

Players to Watch:

  • *Alexandra Henriott (Sr.) - Outside Hitter
  • Sarah Kenney (Jr.) - Libero
  • *Coreen Norwood (Sr.) - Middle Blocker

3. Southern Wesleyan University: The Warriors narrowly rank third with 73 points from coaches and will be the favorite to win the South Division in 2017. In 2016, SWU posted a 15-15 overall record and 12-4 record in Conference Carolinas.

The conference mark earned them a second-place finish in the South Division and fourth overall finish in their first full season in Conference Carolinas. As the favorite in the South, the Warriors could capture the school's first Conference Carolinas title in 2017.

Paige O’Connor, who was an All-Conference Carolinas selection in 2016, highlights the 2017 SWU roster.

Players to Watch:

  • Annika Jones (Jr.) - Setter
  • *Paige O'Connor (Sr.) - Outside Hitter
  • Kendall Vallancourt (Sr.) - Middle Hitter

4. King University: The Tornado enter the year with 71 points and two first-place votes. King went 13-15 overall and 11-5 in conference play in 2016.

The 11-5 mark would earn them a third-place finish in the North Division and fifth-place overall conference finish. The two first-place votes this season shows the North Division will probably produce the 2017 Conference Carolinas champion.

The Tornado will have a great crop of talent returning, as 2016 Freshman of the Year and All-Conference Carolinas selection Becca Huddleston is back for her sophomore season. Also in the mix are All-Conference Carolinas honorees Cathy Scaniffe and Amy Serowski.

Players to Watch:

  • *Becca Huddleston (So.) - Right Side Hitter
  • *Cathy Scaniffe (Jr.) - Outside Hitter
  • *Amy Serowski (Sr.) - Libero

5. Erskine College: The Fleet enter the season in unfamiliar territory, as they check-in fifth with 56 points. Erskine is coming off a 19-10 overall record and 14-2 conference mark.

The 2016 South Division champs do not return a lot of familiar names in 2017, but with accomplished coach Heather Vahjen at the helm you can never count out the Fleet.

Players to Watch:

  • Kayla Blackston (Sr.) - Libero
  • Kayla Duncan (So.) - Middle Hitter
  • Kirsten Kaiser (So.) - Middle Hitter

6. Limestone College: The Saints tallied 49 points and are in sixth-place to open 2017. 

Limestone went 11-17 overall in 2016 while posting a 7-9 conference mark, which earned them a third-place finish in the South.

2015 All-Conference Carolinas performers Rycki Ebert and Darla Svoboda headline the 2017 Limestone roster.

Players to Watch:

  • Rycki Ebert (Sr.) - Outside Hitter
  • Kylie Moyer (Sr.) - Outside Hitter
  • Darla Svoboda (Sr.) - Outside Hitter

7. North Greenville University: The Crusaders collected 46 points from coaches and are ranked seventh. NGU posted an 18-13 overall record and 7-9 conference mark.

The conference mark earned the Crusaders a fourth-place finish in the South Division, but that should improve in 2017 with All-Conference Carolinas performers Kenzie Pierce and Brittany Tepedino returning.

Players to Watch:

  • Annmarie Johnston (Jr.) - Middle Hitter
  • *Kenzie Pierce (Sr.) - Outside Hitter
  • *Brittany Tepedino (So.) - Middle Blocker

8. Lees-McRae College: The Bobcats received 40 points and enter the season ranked eighth. Lees-McRae finished 2016 with a an 11-18 overall record and 7-9 conference mark.

Madison Martin, who was the only libero to win player of the week in 2016, highlights the 2017 Lees-McRae roster.

Players to Watch:

  • Rachel Cutshaw (Sr.) - Outside Hitter
  • Madison Martin (Sr.) - Libero
  • Courtney Weathersbee (Sr.) - Setter

9. University of Mount Olive: The Trojans garnered 24 points from Conference coaches to enter the season ranked ninth. Mount Olive went 10-18 overall in 2016, which included a 5-11 conference record.

Players to Watch:

  • Casey Fiechter (Sr.) - Libero
  • Britni Johnson (Sr.) - Outside Hitter
  • Kamber Skeen (So.) -Setter

10. Converse College: The Valkyries close out the poll in 10th after earning 20 points from coaches. Converse posted a 2-22 overall record and 1-15 conference mark in 2016.

Players to Watch:

  • Sydney Allen (Fr.) - Libero
  • Kiara Cannon (Fr.) - Outside Hitter
  • Alexis Pitts (So.) - Middle Blocker



*denotes 2016 All-Conference Carolinas selection

 

2017 Women's Volleyball Preseason Poll

School (first-place votes) Total
1. Barton (7) 86
2. Belmont Abbey (1) 75
3. Southern Wesleyan 73
4. King (2) 71
5. Erskine 56
6. Limestone 49
7. North Greenville 46
8. Lees-McRae 40
9. Mount Olive 24
10. Converse 20

 


Conference Carolinas is a NCAA Division II athletics conference made up of 11 teams from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. These institutions consist of: Barton College, Belmont Abbey, Converse College, Emmanuel College, Erskine College, King University, Lees-McRae College, Limestone College, University of Mount Olive, North Greenville University, and Southern Wesleyan. Emmanuel College is currently completing the NCAA Membership Process and will be fully competing in league championships in the near future.